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York, and represented themselves to be Indian princes, come to make a representation to government. They were treated in the handsomest manner,—lodged in a hotel in London, and all their expences paid. They returned here lately, genteelly dressed, a la mode Angloise, but in a very short time they betook themselves to the woods, adopting the Indian dress and habits; one would naturally have thought, that after visiting London, and having experienced the comforts of civilized life, they would not have so soon assumed their ancient habits; perhaps, there is something in the nature of the Indian, which tells him that a forest is his proper home, and hunting his fellow tenants of the wood, his proper employment.
I may be thought too severe on the Indians, by those who have been on the banks of the rivers Missouri and Mississippi, or in the north-west territories beyond the Lakes. There, Indians are to be seen in their natural, unsophisticated state. Those that I have seen, have occasionally mixt with Europeans. They are extremely fond of strong spirits, in which both sexes indulge to excess, and are then guilty of the most dreadful cruelties, maiming and murdering their friends and relations in the most savage manner.
Amongst the nations in the interior, I am informed there are found individuals who shew great powers of ratiocination; possess many virtues; and who want nothing but education to be equal to Europeans. Whether the generality of them ought to be placed on that footing or not, appears problematical. To form a just estimate of their genius and mental powers, more facts are wanting; a few instances of individual pre-eminence are not enough. Great allowance must, no doubt, be made for the circumstance that their situation in life calls for the display of only a particular kind of talents; and to those naturally will the force of their mental powers be directed. Of their bravery in war, there are many proofs; as also of their ingenuity and dexterity in the chace. The whole powers of their mind have been directed to these objects. Letters have not been introduced amongst them; and reading promotes reflection. It gives to the mind a new kind
of existence; it strengthens and enlarges the power of its operations.
Whether nature has put the American Indian on the same footing, in every respect, with the European, as to mental powers, is not to be ascertained in the present day: we want facts from which to judge..-— Among all other animals, we see certain classes or species of the same genus superior one to-the other. The Author of Nature has willed it so. It is possible that the Author of Nature may also have made varieties in the human race, differing from each other in their powers both of body and mind; and that the American Indian, the African, and the European, are illustrations of the fact.
The commerce of the river St. Lawrence differs as much from that of the European countries, as the appearance of Canada does from that of the countries in Europe. From what I have said in my different communications to you on these subjects, as well as on the political state of the country, I trust I have enabled you to form a general idea of them. Many subjects of importance require yet to be illustrated. I must, at greater length, explain to you the nature and value of the exports and imports of the country, its productions, manufactures, &c. in order to shew you its value as a British colony.—These matters will form the subject of my next communication.
Quebec, December, 1807'•
The navigation of the river St. Lawrence is now closed—not a vessel to be seen :— like the migrating birds, they have gone in search of a milder climate; immense masses of ice occupy their place, and ride triumphant in the river. Canada has put on her winter clothing, she is wrapped in snow, and the rivers are bound up in ice. We have all assumed our winter dresses; furs and flannels are substituted for nankeens and muslins. The wharfs and quays, lately so moving a scene, are now deserted; business is at a stand. The merchant, and the variety of people employed by him, are now idle; amusements and festivity have assumed the.place of the more serious and important occupations of life. The amusements of this country, particularly the winter amusements, have a distinctive character; you would look in vain for any